A Map of β-cell Differentiation Pathways supports Stem Cell Therapies for Diabetes

Posted on 2 June 2019

The pancreas is home to the Islets of Langerhans, biological structures that contain insuling producing beta-cells. Destruction of these beta-cells, either by the immune system, or during aging, leads to Type 1, or Type 2 diabetes, respectively.

One potential technique for treating diabetes is creating beta-cells from stem cells to transplant into patients.

A recent study, published in Nature, has begun to map the molecular steps in the differentiation of stem cells into islet-like cells. These steps were observed via high resolution, transcriptional profiling of over 100,000 human cells undergoing β-cell differentiation, and this has taken us closer to understanding the pathways involved in the generation of stem-cell-derived beta-cells.

Differentiation of human pancreatic islet cells in vitro.

This is an important advance in the research behind stem-cell based diabetes therapies.


  1. Veres, A., Faust, A.L., Bushnell, H.L. et al. Charting cellular identity during human in vitro β-cell differentiation. Nature 569, 368–373 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-019-1168-5
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